Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced Tuesday that it has started a clinical trial for an antibody therapy intended to prevent and treat COVID-19.
The company said the experimental drug, AZD7442, combines of two monoclonal antibodies derived from convalescent patients with COVID-19, the company said in a statement.
The antibodies were discovered by scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and licensed to AstraZeneca in June. Pre-clinical studies showed they can block the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 from binding to host cells, protecting against infection in cell and animal models of disease.
The trial, which will involve dozens of healthy participants in Britain, is funded by U.S. government.
Should AZD7442 prove safe and effective, AstraZeneca said it will proceed with larger Phase II and III trials.
"This trial is an important milestone in the development of our monoclonal antibody combination to prevent or treat COVID-19," AstraZeneca Executive Vice President Mene Pangalos said. "This combination of antibodies, coupled to our proprietary half-life extension technology, has the potential to improve both the effectiveness and durability of use in addition to reducing the likelihood of viral resistance."
The pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company is also working on a COVID-19 vaccine in a partnership with Britain's University of Oxford. Late-stage trials for the vaccine are underway in Brazil and larger trials are expected to begin in Britain and the United States.